Carlesimo on Kings' list as interview process starts

Updated: May 24, 2006, 2:08 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

The Sacramento Kings have not formally requested permission to interview San Antonio Spurs assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo for their head-coaching vacancy, but Kings co-owner Joe Maloof indicated Tuesday that the request is forthcoming after the Spurs' season ended Monday night.

"I think we'll probably end up talking to P.J.," Maloof said, "but Geoff is really handling all that."

P.J. Carlesimo
Brian Bahr/Getty ImagesCarlesimo is expected to draw interest from the Kings now that the Spurs' season is over.

Geoff is Geoff Petrie, Sacramento's president of basketball operations. Maloof declined to reveal any other names on the list of candidates Petrie has assembled but did say that he, brother Gavin and Petrie will begin conducting interviews Wednesday in Las Vegas.

NBA coaching sources told ESPN.com that Golden State assistant Mario Elie, Memphis assistant Eric Musselman -- formerly the Warriors' head coach -- and John Whisenant of the WNBA's Sacramento Monarchs are expected to meet with the Kings this week as they advance the search for Rick Adelman's replacement.

Maloof, meanwhile, added that New York's Larry Brown -- contrary to widespread speculation -- is not likely to be pursued by the Kings if Brown's tenure with the Knicks is soon terminated as expected.

"Obviously he's one of the best coaches of all-time," Maloof said. "But I think at this time, we probably wouldn't be interested. He's under contract to another team anyway. We haven't even given [Brown] a thought."

Carlesimo's name surfaced immediately as a top contender to succeed Adelman, with the Maloofs known to be fond of San Antonio's organizational approach. The Cleveland Cavaliers also borrowed from the San Antonio model last offseason by hiring Spurs alumni Danny Ferry and Mike Brown as their new GM-coach tandem.

The success of the Spurs' playoff conquerors, however, could enhance Elie's candidacy, according to coaching sources.

Elie and Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson were the most vocal leaders on the Spurs' team that broke through in 1999 to win the first of San Antonio's three championships. Johnson has guided the Mavericks to the Western Conference finals in his first full season; Elie is an on-the-rise assistant with an intense approach similar to Johnson's.

Elie also has an existing relationship with fellow New Yorker Ron Artest, Sacramento's enigmatic new franchise player.

Don Nelson, Johnson's predecessor with the Mavericks, has also been linked to the Kings' job, in part because Nelson already works for the Maloofs as one of the stars in a television project that could wind up on HBO. George Clooney is producing a show for the Maloofs' entertainment arm in which Nelson serves as the coach of a fictional expansion team, along with former NBA stars Vlade Divac, Norm Nixon and Marques Johnson.

Yet Joe Maloof told ESPN.com on May 10 that Nelson's reputation for free-wheeling offense -- as opposed to the defensive mindset Sacramento craves now that Artest is a King -- gave the Kings some hesitation.

"We love Nellie," Maloof said. "But we do feel like defense has to be the priority. We've seen it with the Kings and we've seen it with our WNBA team -- defense wins championships."

It is not yet known if the Kings will request permission to speak with Stan Van Gundy, who remains under contract with the Miami Heat after handing the team back to Pat Riley in December, or Phoenix Suns assistant Marc Iavaroni, both of whom have mentioned as possible candidates.

But Maloof did say earlier this month that the final decision on Adelman's replacement will be ownership's as much as Petrie's, in spite of Petrie's reputation as one of league's most accomplished team-builders.

"We have to be heavily involved, because this decision is so important for the future of the franchise," Maloof said. "We want to do this as quickly as possible and then leave Geoff and [the new coach] alone."

Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.

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Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics